Monday, 14 August 2017

August Meeting

At this meeting we concentrated on adding the fiddle yard controller to the two existing units for the scenic section of the layout. This involved oppening up to rewire and adding links to the main control panel and linking it to the 'yard'.

A view inside the the control panel. The MERG control board can be seen at the top back and the two input connections at either side of the black panel. Adding the third input point under the fiddle yard involved moving a resistor to the end of the chain and then extending the wiring via the multi 'D' connectors.

Soldering means more hands in a small space!

Keith and Pete working in tight, hot conditions

Testing the box....

Linking to the track... more close-up multi-fingered work....

.....finally the test

Looks like it should work!

It didn't work but the test locomotive became the bonus for the day. 

Meanwhile Keith took the bits away to hopefully solve the problem (postscript - problem solved within 24 hours).

One more meeting before a run of exhibition appearances;

Farnham (AGM) 14-15 October
Uckfield 21-22 October
Tolworth 11-12 November

Monday, 10 July 2017

July Meeting

Various aspects of the track work was the main focus of this meeting, so the track boards were assembled and connected for test running.

A major point of discussion was over the track terminations within the large warehouse, at the moment these end with brass blocks. Pete Townsend who is currently completing the warehouse in Somerset, has raised some questions about the interior and suggested terminating the track with brass sleepers. After some discussion it was decided that the brass blocks should remain. Pete also suggested that access to the warehouse interior should be made via a flap in the back scene to rectify any derailed rolling stock. It was considered that as a derailment within the warehouse would seem to be very unlikely, lifting off the structure would be simpler, especially as 'the hand from above' would be seen rectifying running problems on the exposed part of the layout.

The brass blocks at the end of the warehouse roads and the reception track 
There were further discussions regarding several uneven spots on the track, including a dip that tended to lead to unscheduled uncoupling on one of the back roads. Several isolation cuts were also made near buffer stops.

Much of the track bed and yard areas remains without ballast or general cover. Although we appear to have got away with it to date, we felt that fairly urgent attention should be applied to finishing off the exposed areas.

A look at a section of the underside of the layout that shows some of the original and new wiring to point motors and uncoupling magnets that resulted from rewiring the layout form analogue to DCC.

Alan S added three cradles for the MERG controllers. One either side of the control panel for the exposed part of the layout, and one for the fiddle yard operator.

'Many hands ....'
David S and Pete K modifying the base plates of David's loading gauges in preparation for their locations.

The two loading gauges in position...

This one is fine...

...but this one required a bit of extra raising. In fact the loco took it away!

Further discussion looked at a 'N' Brass Peckett 0-4-0 industrial saddle tank loco kit that Richard has bought, hoping that it will be a suitable 'starter kit'. Lots of advice offered and progress may be a blog or workshop subject for future meetings.

Mark Fielder has produced a rmweb blog on his construction methods for this loco, which will be a great starting point.

Keith produced one of his jigs for preparing side frames and gearbox, as always beautifully engineered!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Minor fixes post-Bournmoor

The layout returned from its Bournmoor expedition in the cars of two of the Group members - which were unfortunately parked some distance from the destination at Wilmington. Many hands made light work, and the parts were rapidly brought inside, then we adjourned for an extended tea break.

The basic layout was quickly erected - we are getting quite proficient at this.

Keith had forgotten his list of things to fix, but Richard produced a copy from his iPhone.

First item on the agenda was trimming a wall which extended too far, making it difficult to fit the end warehouse in place.

Looking around, we couldn't find the end warehouse - and then realised it was in Scenery Box 4, which had gone back from Bournmoor to Somerset, for Pete T to work his magic on the other warehouse in that box...

Using his experience as a carpenter in a previous life, David S estimated how much needed to be removed, then attacked it with a hacksaw and removed what we hope is the excess.

Return of Scenery Box 4 sometime in August will prove whether we got it right.

The bit we removed has been carefully stored in Scenery Box 2, in case we need to stick it back again.

This month's slightly implausible visitor - an unfinished WD 2-8-0 from Keith. Whilst it might perhaps make a legitimate appearance as a trip loco, we used it as a shunter to check all the trackwork.

Pete K removed surplus ballast from below the dairy, allowing it to sit flat against the baseboard, then clearances were tested and the milk tanker was pushed in and pulled out without hitting anything.

The track alignment at the joint at the back of the baseboard needed fixing. Track was checked with a roller gauge.

David S then spent some time bending the track to shape and resoldering as required.

Testing showed that the problem had been fixed - until the next time...

An experiment by Keith - adding static grass as marker for the position for an uncoupling magnet.


Alan S brought his prototype "controller pocket",
to be fastened to the baseboard (by as-yet undecided means) to provide a secure resting place for one of the new MERG controllers when not in use.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Bournmoor Supermeet

Saturday 20 May 2017 A celebration of 35 years of the North East Area Group 1982-2017

Lightermans Yard travelled to Bournmoor Co Durham to take part in the celebration of 35 years of the North East Area Group which was well attended by 2mm Association members. Four from the Kent & Essex Group, Pete K, Keith, Alan S and Richard, were joined by our West Country and Yorkshire honorary members, Pete Townsend and Tom Cutting - quite like old times! The layout arrived in a hired van, thanks to Alan, Keith and Pete, and was quickly unpacked and up and running.

(above) Mick Simpson prepared a leaflet for the day with notes on each of the exhibitors and traders. 

Setting-up is becoming a well
practiced process. Here, with the
support of our West Country
honorary member.

Trackbed and some of the scenics in place.

Ready for operation and viewing. Revised backscene in place.

One of the operating teams in action; Pete K, with Tom and Pete T getting the feel of the new MERG controllers, the layout having recently been converted to DCC.

The Shop doing a brisk trade and (below) Mick Simpson announces the lunch arrangements - in three sittings!

Legend has it that when, about 25 years ago, Lightermans Yard was in its planning stage, the then Kent & Essex team lighted on 'Cannonsgate Goods Depot' a small finescale shunting layout designed and illustrated by Iain Rice in his book 'An Approach to Model Railway Layout Design'. Here is the man himself confronted by an interpretation of his original concept (below).

The Lightermans Yard track layout has followed the Cannonsgate plan, but the buildings and street scenes (mostly the work of Pete Townsend) play a significant role in placing the layout in the South East of London, a view re-enforced by a photographic collage of the London skyline depicted in Richard's back scene.  
Iain takes a closer look at the detail in the street scenes.

Layout packed in the van and ready for its return journey South 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

May Meeting

An unusual meeting - the layout wasn't present, it was scattered between various members' homes, in transit between last month's appearance at Epsom and next week's trip up to Bournmoor. So instead of the usual tweaking and gremlin hunting, we had a wide-ranging round-table discussion.

Logistics and timetable for the Bournmoor trip were discussed and agreed, together with a potential extension/diversion to collect various machinery and material from the late Bill Blackburn's collection to allow the association to continue to produce PCB sleepers.

The only photo-worthy item on display was David S' Co-Bo in an almost finished state (just needs the body fastening more firmly to the chassis...). It uses the Worsley Works scratch aids for the body, with a scratch built chassis.

Unfortunately the lighting conditions were poor, but I hope these pictures (mostly from Richard) will give some idea of the real item, though they don't do justice to the weathering.

It previously appeared in the September 2016 issue of the blog,  complete with a Thomas-style smiling face!

Various plans for development of the layout were discussed, including:
  • sending the warehouse to the West Country branch to be finished off, after Bournmoor and before the next exhibitions in October/November
  • finishing ballasting the trackwork
  • marking all uncouplers, in particular those on the brake van road, so that operators know where they are
  • more freight stock
  • more locomotives - which resulted in extended discussion about which (if any) available kits would be suitable, particularly for shunters but also as trip locos

I think it was agreed that 1961 was going to be the normal operating period - any earlier and the Post Office Tower would need to be removed from the backscene, any later and it would become difficult to justify continuing use of steam locos. Which led on to discussion of building a couple of 08 shunters - Keith and David S already have one each, but expressed reservations about them.

I'm not sure who was volunteered to extricate the chippie, who spent most of the Epsom Exhibition with his feet in the air and his head in the deep fat frier

As this report is a bit short, I will pad it out with another mystery shot from the archives. Answers on a post card please...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Epsom Exhibition

Setting up on for the exhibition, on the Friday evening, presented a few unforeseen difficulties.

We met as arranged at 4pm, to beat the worst of the Friday afternoon traffic. The Exhibition venue was officially inaccessible until 5pm (still in use), so we wandered around outside trying to assess the best entry route.

After a while a few cars were allowed through the gates into the car park adjacent to the hall. Leaving the cars outside, we ventured closer on foot, trying to agree which way up the map should go. The hall wasn't yet marked out, but we discovered which distant corner we had been allocated. We located the nearest entry, then Keith and Pete K went back for their cars, which each contained half of the layout.

Assembly went smoothly, then came the testing, using Keith's Association 08. Despite Keith having taken home the trackbed, and cleaned and overhauled the points, gremlins were found to infest two separate points. A prolonged poking session eventually dislodged them and they appear to have then taken up residence in Nigel Cliffe's P4 layout, Coldfair Green, on the far side of the main hall.

In the meantime, Paula had set up the 2FS RoadShow in the adjacent spot, and foolishly entrusted it to us while she went off for a weekend in Dorset.

 We managed to negotiate our exit through the high security gates, and returned again early on Saturday morning for a track cleaning session, followed by assembly of the backscene. A few of the finishing touches, like information sheets, had been overlooked, and didn't arrive until Sunday. But we were (mostly) ready for the arrival of spectators at 10 o'clock.

Saturday was a busy day, the layout usually being surrounded by a significant crowd. Unfortunately that didn't extend to the adjacent Roadshow, where sales remained at zero - though there were a few visitors (mostly existing members).

We had a minor scenery repair session at the beginning of Sunday - Pete K glued back an awning that had become dislodged, and I reattached loose reins on the brewers' dray and repainted some broken ridge tiling on one of the houses.

Sunday morning was much quieter. Perhaps prospective visitors were still running the London Marathon, or just enjoying a lie-in.

Sunday afternoon brought more traffic. Lots of families, and we challenged some of the children to find cats/dogs/pigeons on the layout - the pigeons usually eluding them.

As can be seen, we were off the main hall, not perhaps in the most accessible location, which made the substantial (and usually highly appreciative) crowds of spectators a pleasant surprise.

Five o'clock on Sunday - a whistle was blown, and the show closed to visitors. Dismantling of the layout was impressively fast, and within half an hour it was ready for loading up. Next stop Bournmoor, in another month, for the 2mm Supermeet.